When planning a trip to the incredible Greek islands, Rhodes isn’t usually one of the first places travellers think of – and it’s a shame. Typically eclipsed by the fame and notoriety of Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, this overlooked island giant (the largest of Greece’s Dodecanese) has a lot to offer visitors. I recently had the opportunity to visit Rhodes and here’s just a few reasons why you should add it to your list (and why I will be going back.)
The History. So. Much. History.
If ancient history tickles your fancy, visit Rhodes. Originally established around 400 BC, Rhodes, due to its strategic position between Greece and Turkey, quickly developed into an important trading center. Over the centuries that followed, the island passed through the ruling hands of the Romans, Knights of Saint John, Ottomans, and Italians before formally becoming a part of Greece. As a result of all this conflict and change there is no shortage of fascinating archeological sites while you visit Rhodes.
The Medieval Old Town of Rhodes with its narrow, winding alleyways (try it on a Segway!); the ancient town of Kamiros, mentioned in history by Homer himself; and the incredible ancient acropolis near Lindos are just a few worth mentioning on this list of reasons to visit Rhodes.
Choices Choices Choices
So maybe history isn’t your thing, but that doesn’t mean Rhodes isn’t for you. From laid-back beaches to cosmopolitan cities to rolling green hills and action sport activities, there is truly something here for everyone. Just outside the walls of Old Town you will find modern buildings mixing with Veneitian buildings (reminders of Italian rule) that feel like they belong in Venice and not here in the Greek islands. Wander the small marina of Mandráki to see the surrounding windmills, catch some rays on the decidedly cosmopolitan Eli Beach.
If sport is what you are looking for, you can find it while you visit Rhodes. There is a year-round 18-hole golf course near Afándou Beach and the route along the banks of the River Loutanis from Kolimbia to Archipoli is perfect for cycling. Of course, with the beautiful, blue waters of the Aegean surrounding the island, a large variety of water sports rentals are also readily available.
Standing at just over 1200 meters, Mount Atáviros is the highest mountain on Rhodes. The ascent from the mountain village Émbonas (the biggest settlement in the region) will take up to 6 hours and can be challenging at times so it is only recommended for experienced hikers. The good news; those that manage to make the summit will be rewarded with incredible views of the entire island. Bonus – Émbonas is famous for its wine (the vineyards cover the mountainside) so be sure to reward yourself with a glass (or two) once you arrive back to the village.
Other treks include a two-hour route from Filérimos to the coast through a forest filled with pine trees, tree forest, a three-hour walk through the Valley of the Butterflies, or hike your wake to the summit of Profitis Ilias – about four hours to complete.
I didn’t get to do any of these hikes while there but they are definitely reasons to visit Rhodes again.
There are a few islands nearby that offer you a chance to get off the “mainland” and see something different whole you visit Rhodes:
- Kastellórizo (also known as Megisti) has only about 300 inhabitants today, but the town and its incredible neo-classical houses remind us of the islands historical prosperity.
- About an hour by boat from Mandráki harbour, Sými was once one of the richest islands in the Dodecanese (thanks to Sponge-diving and the seamen that called the island home). Here you can find beautifully preserved buildings and houses as well as the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
- Visit the abandoned village of Micró Horió (“Small Village”), deserted since 1950, on the island of Tílos. Then head to Meyálo Horió (“Big Village) to visit the Palaeontology Museum, where you can see petrified skeletons of dwarf elephants.
No great vacation is complete without a memorable culinary experience and Rhodes can deliver. I like to eat like a local wherever I go and it’s easy to spot the tourist traps (think English signage with pictures of dishes). Try to find out where the locals eat and follow suit. Needless to say Mediterranean cuisine dominates the scene (think fresh seafood, salads, and Dolmades drizzled with local olive oil), but with the blending of cultures on Rhodes you will easily find international options to satisfy even the pickiest palate. You will not go hungry while you visit Rhodes.
Hit the Rhodes
Now that you can’t wait to get to Rhodes, let Villa Plus help you find the perfect place to stay. Enjoy piece of mind booking with 28 years of experience hand-picking villas around the world. It doesn’t matter if you want to be next to the bars and restaurants or right on the beach, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Visit Rhodes Good to Know
Best time to Visit: Less crowds and lower prices March-May & October-November
Don’t Miss: Old Town stroll, hikes, and Greek food!